NYT Throws Cold Water on new Palestinian Town

A  Palestinian entrepreneur is building a new Palestinian city in the West Bank. It promises to be a win-win affair for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Known as Rawabi, the town will have a Roman-style amphitheater with seating for 12,000 and also a soccer stadium. Plus a water park and a piazza in the town center lined with arcades and cafes. There will also be a movie theater with seven screens.

The first 600 apartments in Rawabi have been sold. And there’s an advertising campaign for more apartments that sell for $60,000 to $200,000.

So what’s not to like? Plenty, according to the Aug. 31 edition of the New York Times, which features a big spread on Rawabi, with a six-column headline that reads “New Palestinian Town in West Bank Awaits Israel’s Approval for Water.”

Times correspondent Isabel Kershner promptly paints Rawabi in dark hues: “There are no people living in Rawabi,” she reports, “because there is no water here. Connecting the new city to a nearby water main depends on long-awaited approval from Israel. As a result, the future of the whole enterprise is hanging in the balance.”

But is the situation really as dire as she depicts it at the top of her article?

Well, not exactly, if you’re willing to read a bit further. There, the outlook is not nearly as grim. Israeli officials say the water issue may be resolved within a week. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office tells Kershner, “We support the project.” But that, you see, belatedly appears in the 20th paragraph of Kershner’s 23-paragraph story, way down near the end.  A paragraph later, Kershner drops her pessimistic outlook entirely -- way down in the 21st paragraph:  “Either way,” she writes, “there have been indications that the water problem may be on its way to resolution.”

So what gives? Yes, there have been some bureaucratic delays by a joint Israeli-Palestinian Water Committee that dragged its feet because Israel also wanted water for settlements. But with a big push by Israeli media, the project now seems on track and likely to blossom in short order. Plans are even under way for an inaugural celebration at the amphitheater in October.

If Times readers take the trouble to read the entire article, they will quickly see that it’s a typical Israel-bashing Kershner product. The formula is quite familiar: Start with a big anti-Israel lament (no water with a project on the brink of disaster) followed by a complete turnaround at the end of the article that is apt to be missed by most readers (apartments are still being sold, the water issue is on the verge of a solution, Israel is for it, plans are afoot for an inaugural celebration)

With Kershner and the New York Times, there always have to be some anti-Israel poison pills, even when facts don’t point in a dire direction.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

A  Palestinian entrepreneur is building a new Palestinian city in the West Bank. It promises to be a win-win affair for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Known as Rawabi, the town will have a Roman-style amphitheater with seating for 12,000 and also a soccer stadium. Plus a water park and a piazza in the town center lined with arcades and cafes. There will also be a movie theater with seven screens.

The first 600 apartments in Rawabi have been sold. And there’s an advertising campaign for more apartments that sell for $60,000 to $200,000.

So what’s not to like? Plenty, according to the Aug. 31 edition of the New York Times, which features a big spread on Rawabi, with a six-column headline that reads “New Palestinian Town in West Bank Awaits Israel’s Approval for Water.”

Times correspondent Isabel Kershner promptly paints Rawabi in dark hues: “There are no people living in Rawabi,” she reports, “because there is no water here. Connecting the new city to a nearby water main depends on long-awaited approval from Israel. As a result, the future of the whole enterprise is hanging in the balance.”

But is the situation really as dire as she depicts it at the top of her article?

Well, not exactly, if you’re willing to read a bit further. There, the outlook is not nearly as grim. Israeli officials say the water issue may be resolved within a week. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office tells Kershner, “We support the project.” But that, you see, belatedly appears in the 20th paragraph of Kershner’s 23-paragraph story, way down near the end.  A paragraph later, Kershner drops her pessimistic outlook entirely -- way down in the 21st paragraph:  “Either way,” she writes, “there have been indications that the water problem may be on its way to resolution.”

So what gives? Yes, there have been some bureaucratic delays by a joint Israeli-Palestinian Water Committee that dragged its feet because Israel also wanted water for settlements. But with a big push by Israeli media, the project now seems on track and likely to blossom in short order. Plans are even under way for an inaugural celebration at the amphitheater in October.

If Times readers take the trouble to read the entire article, they will quickly see that it’s a typical Israel-bashing Kershner product. The formula is quite familiar: Start with a big anti-Israel lament (no water with a project on the brink of disaster) followed by a complete turnaround at the end of the article that is apt to be missed by most readers (apartments are still being sold, the water issue is on the verge of a solution, Israel is for it, plans are afoot for an inaugural celebration)

With Kershner and the New York Times, there always have to be some anti-Israel poison pills, even when facts don’t point in a dire direction.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers